In Banisadr’s paintings, his own memories become combined and fused with Persian mythology, such as Marco Polo’s discredited story of the Hashshashin, a militaristic sect whose members were drugged and made to believe that the gardens behind their mountain top fortress were actually Heaven, where obedience might be rewarded by short visits, replete with feasting and vestal virgins. Land Of Black Gold conjures tales such as this through its elaborate composition and suggested narratives. Influenced by Persian miniatures – small intricately rendered illustrations similar to illuminated manuscripts – Banisadr’s canvas spans like an ancient map, a spatially skewed terrain of detailed activity. Throughout is a disorientating sense of wonder as angular shapes propose topsy-turvy architecture, out of scale figures are formed from indulgent dabs and exotic fauna and pools evolve from luscious smears and layered washes. Rendered in the golds and blues associated with European religious painting, Banisadr baths his scene of earthly pleasures in a divine glow, ignited by bombardments in the distance.

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